Veterans Day is a singular reminder of the debt our nation owes to its men and women in uniform. These soldiers often make the ultimate sacrifice or bear the physical and emotional scars of battle and military service.
This Veterans Day think about taking the family to the beautiful -- and very local -- National Cemetery on Boundary Street in Beaufort. Here rest veterans from wars as far back as the Civil War. It is a beautiful spot for reflection and connection to the past and present commitment by our military forces in defense of freedom.
Lengthy and repeated tours of duty take a toll on the military family. Thankfully, resources abound, online and in print and media formats, to assist military personnel and their families to address the professional and personal circumstances unique to military life.
Post-traumatic stress disorder has been classified as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association only since 1980, yet humans have suffered the effects of trauma probably since they first encountered saber-toothed cats. According to the National Center for PTSD, "Shakespeare's Henry IV appears to meet many, if not all, of the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, as have other heroes and heroines throughout the world's literature." In the 21st century, terrorists and have brought PTSD to our door step; sometimes just seeing media coverage of horrific events may cause PTSD symptoms in young children.
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Below are helpful websites for veterans seeking assistance from the Veteran's Administration:
Veterans Benefits: www.benefits.va.gov
VA Facilities in South Carolina: http://1.usa.gov/HLOgvF
MyHealtheVet, the VA's online personal health record designed for veterans, active duty service members, their dependents and caregivers: www.myhealth.va.gov
VA post-tramautic stress disorder website: www.ptsd.va.gov
The following resources cover such diverse topics as families dealing with parents serving in combat zones, the adjustment back to civilian life, short stories from the home front, a military alphabet for children, and coping with PTSD:
"Your Military Family Network: Your Connection to Military Friendly Resources, Benefits, Information, Businesses and Advice" by the Military Family Network
Every chapter includes advice, frequently asked questions, a need-to-know checklist and additional resources to connect the military family with the entire Military Family Network. The network is an association of experts, professionals, businesses, and volunteers whose mission is to serve the military community on a national, regional, and local level. Details: www.emilitary.org.
"Home Fires Burning: Married to the Military, for Better or Worse," by Karen Houppert
A gritty, behind-the-scenes look at the tour of duty from the domestic front. From the book jacket: "(The book) provides a fascinating, and fresh examination of an American institution and the families that live in its shadow. ... The author shows the sacrifice of military spouses and the changing role of wives who face a changing social climate that entitles women to more -- a career of their own, self-determination, and a true parenting partner."
"Fields of Combat: Understanding PTSD among Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan" by Erin P. Finley
From the book jacket: "Both heartbreaking and hopeful, 'Fields of Combat' tells the story of how American veterans and their families navigate the return home. Following a group of veterans and sharing their personal stories of war, trauma and recovery, the author illustrates the devastating impact PTSD can have on veterans, their loved ones, and their communities.
"You Know When the Men Are Gone" by Siobhan Fallon From the author's website: "In Fort Hood housing, like all army housing, you get used to hearing through the walls... You learn too much. You also know when the men are gone. No more boots stomping above, no more football games turned up too high.
"Through a series of loosely interconnected stories, Siobhan Fallon takes readers onto the base, inside the homes, into the marriages and families -- intimate places not seen in newspaper articles or politicians' speeches."
"H is for Honor: a Military Family Alphabet" by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Victor Juhas
From the book jacket: "This children's book is the perfect introduction to military family life. It pays deep respect to the remarkable and outstanding group we call the American armed forces. Using the alphabet format, this picture book describes the many situations and experiences that military families, especially their children, encounter. The history, responsibility, and legacy of military family life are deftly introduced from A to Z with intelligent poetry and complimentary sidebar text."
Francesca Denton is a reference manager at the Beaufort branch of the Beaufort County Library System, at 311 Scott St., Beaufort.